The Cowlitz Black Bears announced the signings of six returning players, comprising the largest returning class in the club’s history. The returners include outfielder Derrick Salberg (Lower Columbia College), catcher Konnor Armijo (Utah), infielder Bud Collura (South Alabama), and pitchers Cody Rogina (UC Riverside), Jon Bjorklund (Mt. Hood CC) and Brian McAfee (Cornell).
“We are thrilled to have this group of returning players,” said coach Tim Matz. “Each brings something different to the table. They will provide an outstanding core for our ballclub.”
Kelso High School product and current Red Devil standout Salberg looks to continue the momentum that he carried through a memorable 2012 spring and summer. On the heels of “The Catch,” Salberg was a key contributor to the Black Bears playoff run. As part of a stellar Black Bears outfield, Salberg ended the season third on the team in hitting with a .275 batting average, and was among the team leaders in stolen bases, runs scored and on-base percentage.
Armijo continues the Black Bears’ tradition of leadership from the catcher position. A presence behind the plate, the 6’3”, 215 lb. Armijo appeared in 31 games as the team’s primary starting catcher. His two home runs ranked second on the team,and with only one error on the season he was at the top of league defensively for all catchers. After a successful stint playing for Coach Matz at Santa Ana College, Konnor makes the move to the Pac-12 with Utah this spring.
As a late season acquisition last summer, Collura started the final 12 games for the Black Bears, including both playoff games against the Corvallis Knights. The Vancouver native and former Clark College star was a 2012 NWAACC Gold Glove winner at third base, and a second team All - NWAACC selection. Upon joining the Black Bears, he immediately took up residence in the heart of the order, hitting .248 during his time with the club, and getting a hit in 6 of the team’s final 7 games.
Bjorklund was another late season acquisition for the Black Bears in 2012, contributing significantly during the run to the playoffs. The day after he signed with the team, the competitive Mt. Hood CC left-hander earned a win with three shutout innings in a critical relief appearance at Bend. In all, he posted a 1.08 ERA in 6 appearances.
Rogina made 11 appearances for the Bears in 2012, with 6 coming in a starting role. He was the starter and the pitcher of record in the season finale against Bend, throwing six shutout innings in a 5-0 Black Bears win that propelled the team into the Western Division playoffs.
McAfee is coming off of an outstanding freshman season at Cornell, where he went 6-1 in what was primarily a starting role, and earned Second Team All-Ivy League honors. The former Washington 4A Player of the Year (with Bothell High School) made 13 appearances for the Black Bears in 2012, posting a 3.71 ERA.